Self-Supporting Ministry (SSM) is a ministry the Diocese wants to encourage and support in every way possible.
Around our Diocese, we receive support from Self-Supporting Ministers, who are called by God to new endeavours and empowering our work as his Church seeks to grow in new ways. SSM priesthood is imaginative and varied, which directly and indirectly promotes spiritual growth in those outside the church and serves the community in a huge variety of ways.
A good working relationship with your parish and incumbent is great and you may feel that a Working Agreement is not necessary as you work so well together. Below is the thinking behind the Working Agreement Toolkit and why it is helpful to write down what you do.
A Working Agreement has three main purposes:
- To enable priestly ministry to flourish in relation to individual vocation and calling, in the wider world and in the parish.
- To define expectations and boundaries of work for the individual, so enabling effective and reasonable contributions to their priestly ministry in specific location(s),
- To provide opportunities for and to maximise the use of talent, experience and potential (as identified during Ministerial Review).
Working Agreements are individually tailored to the person, their circumstances and the parish to which they are licensed, by the person to whom they apply, in consultation with those with whom they work.
The areas indicated in the toolkit are those which:
have been found likely to contribute to the support and nurturing of the primary calling of a self-supporting minister (which may not be parochial)
enable this by providing a framework for the extent and limitations of work that they can reasonably commit to in a parish.
are particularly useful when moving parishes or if a new parish priest is appointed.
and, although it is hoped that these will not arise, can give clarification and support for solving issues or problems.
It is intended that, with adequate forethought and for those who have been some time in SSM priesthood, this document can be completed relatively quickly (30 mins might suffice!) but that it provides sufficient coverage to help those who are embarking on any kind of new relationship, team or posting.
What matters is a clear understanding how your calling as an SSM relates to the extent and the limits of what you do in your parish
This document is exactly what it says on the tin: a toolkit, not a straight-jacket!
The booklet outlines important changes in the payment of fees for duties over and above your working agreement, during an interregnum or when a stipendiary priest needs cover for sickness. If you are unable to access this through the website, please let Anne know and she will send you a printed copy.
It is important that SSM priests know about this provision, even if it is not your intention to claim fees. We do strongly urge you to make sure that your working agreement (however brief and flexible!) is up to date and in writing. You may wish to consider claiming fees and then gift-aiding them back to the parish or diocese, in which case the church is the gainer. It is also important to claim fees so that the diocese has an accurate figure of how much it actually costs to provide adequate cover in parishes.
The diocese is very appreciative of all the work done by all types of ‘voluntary’ minister and we are thankful that this provision is being made in acknowledgement.